Clicker training: on one hand, there are those who have fallen in love with this method, whereas, on the other hand, there are those who are not much convinced about using a clicker, or to put it bluntly, find its use pointless. Why is it so? At a closer look, those who are not convinced about clicker training are most likely not well versed in its use, while those who are proficient clicker trainers are reaping the rewards of this effective training method.
Debunking Some Common Clicker Training Myths
Understanding how clicker training works and debunking some common myths is often sufficient to remove some bias and discard the many layers of skepticism often associated with lack of knowledge. Clicker training can be used for virtually any task, from training a dog to do tricks, dancing in canine musical freestyle, to training the basics of agility, rally, and many other dog sports. Following are some common myths.
You are Stuck with a Clicker
It is a common belief that clicker training causes trainers to be stuck carrying a clicker and a bag of treats for the rest of their lives. In reality, clickers and their accompanying treats, are for the most part used during the initial stages of learning, often known as the acquisition phase. Once the dog has learned the behavior, it can be put on cue and a positive marker such as “yes” or “good” can be used to replace the clicker.
Clicker Training is Just for Tricks
As mentioned, clicker training can be used in virtually any exercise and dog sport. Recently, clickers have also made their appearance in the fields for the purpose of training hunting dogs and herding dogs. Clicker training is not just for tricks, and there are many trainers and dog owners who have put titles on their dogs using clickers and many service dogs are trained this way. It must not be forgotten that marine mammal trainer, Karen Pryor, used the clicker to initially train dolphins and whales!
You Can Use Your Voice to Train
There are many people who do not want to use a clicker because they find its use pointless. Why use a clicker when you can use a verbal marker such as “yes” or “good”? Truth is, clickers make a very distinctive sound, unlike the human voice which may have many different variances. Dogs that were trained with a clicker achieved superior behavior acquisition in fewer minutes and required fewer reinforcements when compared to dogs taught with verbal markers.
Dogs Get Distracted by Other Clicks
Often, owners are concerned their dog will hear the clicks of other owners working nearby and will get distracted. This is an unfounded concern. Indeed, clicker training classes are often carried out with many dogs and owners sharing the same room and dogs have shown the uncanny ability to discriminate the clicks and attend only to the ones delivered from their handler.
As seen, clicker training is not just for tricks, does not cause you to be stuck with a clicker for the rest of your life and grants superior behavior acquisition when compared to using verbal markers. This is ultimately a win-win situation for all!